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Passing the Teaching Torch

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“Are you here to write the article about the best teacher in the WORLD?!?!” Kyle Amideo, current third grader at Medlock Bridge Elementary and former student of Carrie Miller, was very excited that his kindergarten teacher was getting the star treatment from the district. The young ambassador led the way to what was once Ms. Miller’s classroom and is now Ms. Phillips’ classroom, then dashed off down the hall to fetch some of his fellow students to come say hello.

Carrie Miller retired in May 2018 after 30 years of teaching in Fulton County, 22 of them in a kindergarten classroom at Medlock Bridge Elementary. Alisha Phillips, newly minted replacement kindergarten teacher at Medlock Bridge, was Ms. Miller’s student 30 years ago.

Ms. Phillips always knew she wasn’t meant to have an office job. “I’ve always known I wanted to be a teacher,” she said. “I used to give my cousins homework when we were kids.” She started her teaching career at a private kindergarten, then spent a few years as a paraprofessional in Fulton County. When she returned to teaching, she wasn’t sure which opportunity to pursue. “I didn’t really expect it, but when I found out I was taking over for Carrie, I knew I had to come.”

Ms. Miller, who bequeathed a classroom full of resources and materials to her former student, is pleased and proud of this turn of events. “Take things slow and easy and everything works out,” she advised Ms. Phillips. Though she’s new to retirement, already she said “I miss the kids and the colleagues.”

The two compared notes about the changes in teaching over the years, especially the rise of technology. “Technology keeps improving, but the students stay the same,” said Ms. Miller. Ms. Phillips, who admits that it was tough to call Ms. Miller ‘Carrie’ the first few times, agreed that students and their energy and willingness to learn have stayed the same since her own days in the classroom. “Teaching is an adventure every day,” she said.

Thirty years ago, Ms. Miller took time off for maternity leave, and her class made her new daughter a birthday card. Alisha’s drawing and words of congratulations are front and center. Now that she’s retired, Ms. Miller plans to spend more time with that daughter’s own three-year-old.

When teased about having a lot to live up to in terms of tenure, Ms. Phillips isn’t fazed. She loves the sense of community and continuity Medlock Bridge Elementary provides, noting that she’s still good friends with some of the students who were with her in Ms. Miller’s class.

Ms. Phillips and Ms. Miller with a card made by Miller's class 30 years ago

Ms. Miller (left) with Ms. Phillips, and the card the class made for Ms. Miller when her daughter was born.

Ms. Miller's retirement party

Ms. Miller's retirement party.